Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s marijuana mea culpa has sparked some serious reefer madness on Parliament Hill.
Trudeau’s confession that he smoked a joint after becoming an MP has put the pot-smoking predilections of politicians – if any – under the microscope.
It now seems every parliamentarian is being asked if they’ve ever fired up a fattie.
For the record, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird says he has stayed away from the drug after seeing a U.S. Supreme Court nominee withdraw after it emerged he smoked marijuana in college.
“I came of age politically in the 1980s and I can recall when one of President ( Ronald ) Reagan’s nominees for the U.S. Supreme Court had to withdraw because of his use of that substance, so I took my example from that,” Baird said.
The question also came up at a news conference with Employment Minister Jason Kenney and Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
Kenney says he has never smoked a joint – although he did admit to drinking coffee, a jab at the java-averse Trudeau.
“I’ll let Mr. Trudeau’s comments and actions speak for themselves,” he said, parroting Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s response a day earlier. “All I can say is, I would like to make a public confession that I do drink coffee.”
Alexander chimed in, saying he, too, drinks coffee.
Justice Minister Peter MacKay also got in on the pot pile-on, saying most Canadians expect their elected representatives to stick to the straight and narrow.
“It’s currently against the law to smoke dope. I think most Canadians expect that their member of Parliament will obey the law,” MacKay said Friday in Halifax.
“But this admission of smoking marijuana, breaking the law, doing so knowingly while he was a member of Parliament – the politics of this are such that there’s an element of hypocrisy of having voted on the record to increase penalties around the same time that he was lighting up. So his credibility is a little up in smoke.”
Trudeau, who was elected to Parliament in 2008, voted a year later for mandatory minimum sentences for pot production.
Not everyone was such a buzzkill, though. In an interview with Global TV’s The Morning Show, actor George Takei praised Trudeau’s candour.
“It’s going to be a great positive for him,” said Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on the original Star Trek series. “It serves Canada well to have a politician who can be known for his honesty and forthrightness.”
One of Trudeau’s caucus colleagues also came to his defence.
“People admire Justin’s candour and his common sense,” Liberal MP Scott Brison said in an interview. “I’ve also had comments from people that find people like Stephen Harper and Peter MacKay hopelessly out of touch with near-toxic levels of sanctimony and more interested in attacking someone’s character than actually listening to reason.”
He said no one has questioned Trudeau’s judgment in toking while an MP.
“No, I have not heard that at all from anybody,” he said, dismissing Tory attempts to persuade Canadians that Trudeau is unfit to govern.